The love of film photography
In July 2017, Austin and I went to the Grand Canyon with my parents and sister. It was a great vacation and if you haven't visited the Grand Canyon, you should make that happen. I don't know what I was expecting, but the views of the canyon were indeed grand. It seems to be appropriately named.
Why am I talking about the Grand Canyon in a post about film photography? I think it was the Grand Canyon trip that reminded me how much I love film photography. This was something I didn’t really know, but looking back, I see it now.
I have always been interested in photography. I can even remember a photography competition that I entered in elementary school where they gave us Kodak disposable cameras. I took a photo of a nearby waterfall. I’m sure the photo wasn’t great, but I have good memories of the competition. I also have good memories of my parent’s film cameras: a Kodak 110mm camera and Canon point and shoot 35mm camera.
Through college I mainly shot digital (Nikon Coolpix, Canon G7, and then a Nikon D80). I don’t fully know why, but while in college, I purchased a 1958 Zorki 4 35mm film rangefinder camera with a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2.0 lens and a Holga toy medium format film camera. Two film cameras. I didn’t have a light meter at the time, and just shot a few rolls of film using the Sunny 16 rule.
Fast forward to after college when I was living in New York City. I was still using my Nikon D80 for most of my photography, but I bought the classic Nikon F3 from Adorama, a Polaroid SX-70 from the Brooklyn Flea Market, and a Seagull TLR from B&H. All film cameras. It was during my time in New York that my parents bought me my first light meter for Christmas, a Sekonic L-208. Some of my favorite photos from my time living in NYC were from these film cameras.
What is it about film? Is it the nostalgia? Probably a little, if I’m honest, but I think the main reason I enjoy film photography is the pace. I find I slow down and think more about the framing, the light, the motion of the object before taking the photo. While living in New York, I gave myself rules that when I walked around the neighborhood I could only take 36 frames with my Nikon D80, as if I had a roll of film in the camera and not a SD card that could hold hundreds of photos.
OK, back to the Grand Canyon. When we went to the Grand Canyon, I decided it would be a great opportunity to take both my Nikon D750 full frame DSLR and my Nikon F3 35mm film SLR. I walked around the canyon with both cameras, one hanging from each side and a tripod in my bag. Yes, it was heavy carrying both cameras, but I am so glad I did.
Before the Grand Canyon trip, I mainly shot with digital cameras. After experiencing the Grand Canyon with a digital camera and a film camera, I now mainly shoot film. Yes, some of my favorite photos from the Grand Canyon trip are from my Nikon D750, a digital camera, but shooting with the Nikon F3 during this trip helped me realize that I enjoy shooting with film more. I find I see things better when shoot with film, I actually look at what I am shooting. When I’m shooting the Nikon D750, I am looking at the back LCD screen and making adjustments. It’s more stressful as I feel I can make sure I capture the shot. If I miss the shot with a film camera (both from timing or exposure errors), it’s a learning experience. I also look around me more instead of at a LCD screen on the back of my camera, so I’m more present in my surroundings when shooting film.
The Grand Canyon trip was in July 2017. Since then, I have bought 6 more cameras (5 film and 1 digital), sold 4 cameras, and bought a new light meter (Sekonic L-558). I have also started to develop my own black and white film at home and scan my film with my Nikon D750, two subjects I want to write about in the near future. I still shoot digital cameras, but am enjoying being able to focus time on my film photography. Perhaps film photography will help me finally write more on my blog!